Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and tree biodiversity

Participatory research is about providing people with opportunities to share their knowledge and experience with each other while also sharing it with researchers. It focuses on tackling problems that are relevant to communities in ways that draw on their own successful experiences and knowledge and integrating them with a conventional scientific perspective.  

By adopting participatory approaches, researchers can co-develop solutions with local people that are more appropriate for the diverse communities where they work. These solutions will be more locally relevant and more readily adopted by community members.

Bioversity International's approach

Bioversity International's participatory research approach gives the men and women, of diverse cultures and ethnicities, who manage family farms and community forests, a voice in the research-for-development agenda. It can empower them to safeguard and use biodiversity to confront global challenges such as adapting to climate change.

Our approach:

  • encourages women and men farmers to communicate the constraints they face and work with researchers to identify and adapt strategies and technologies that are appropriate to meet their particular challenges
  • provides opportunities for women and men to freely express their concerns in group sessions where scientists, local stakeholders and smallholders can learn from each other
  • results in good science, co-learning and empowered communities. Gaining the necessary skills is a long-term learning process with challenges, constraints and opportunities.


Citizen science to identify the right seeds for needs

Farmers scoring wheat varieties being grown in field trials, Ethiopia. Bioversity International/J.V.GevelBioversity International's 'Seeds for Needs' initiative works with >20,000 smallholder farmers in 11 countries to research how agricultural biodiversity can minimize the risks associated with climate change. 

The farmers we work with are directly involved in evaluating and selecting varieties, providing valuable feedback on their preferred traits to scientists and increasing their first-hand knowledge of useful varieties and traits.

By involving them as 'citizen scientists', we increase their first-hand knowledge of useful varieties and traits. We then compare these experiences with our scientific data to identify important trends and map traits that then inform farmer decisions and breeding. 

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Gender Research Fellowship Programme

A 12 month Gender Research Fellowship Programme, implemented in 2013/4, gave young scientists from National Programmes the opportunity to be mentored in the use of participatory methods, as part of their work to improve the gender responsiveness of the projects.

Hear them talking about their experiences in this short video.

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